By Colleen Kave, J.D.
A new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard designed to help reduce fatalities and injuries in motorcoach and large bus crashes by mitigating occupant ejection has been proposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) specifies a new impactor test on the glazing material of side and rear windows and glass panels on the roof of motorcoaches and large buses. Comments must be received on or before 60 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register (NHTSA Press Release, April 25, 2016).
In the new tests, a 26 kilogram (57 pound) impactor would be propelled from inside a test vehicle toward the window glazing at 21.6 kilometers per hour (13.4 miles per hour). The impactor and impact speed would simulate the loading from an average size unrestrained adult male impacting a window on the opposite side of a large bus in a rollover. Performance requirements would apply to side and rear windows, and to glass panels and windows on the roof to mitigate partial and complete ejection of passengers from these windows and to ensure that emergency exits remain operable after a rollover crash. NHTSA also proposes to limit the protrusions of emergency exit latches into emergency exit openings of windows to ensure they do not unduly hinder emergency egress.
Preventing occupant ejection has been a high priority for NHTSA, according to the agency’s press release. Other recent measures have addressed the issue, including a 2013 final rule (78 FR 70415, November 25, 2013) requiring seat belts at all seating positions in motorcoaches to mitigate occupant ejection and improve crash protection. Additionally, in 2014, NHTSA issued an NPRM (79 FR 46090, August 6, 2014) for improved rollover structural integrity that would also ensure window glazing does not pop out of its mounting and emergency exits do not open inadvertently during a rollover crash.
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